The SAIS Crisis Simulation 2014 was one of the most exciting and engaging events that I have been a part of at SAIS DC, and I was especially honored to be selected as Minister of Energy for China. For the weekend of March 7-9, my seven-person China team dealt with an oil crisis, terrorist attacks in the Middle East, espionage, and an expanding role for China in the wake of declining U.S. power.
The simulation was set in 2018 and three weeks prior to the start of the simulation, all participants received a 17-page “State of the World: 2018” to set the scene. Participants were assigned countries and roles, but were not aware of the other countries involved or what kind of crisis would occur. Come crisis day, we relied on our own background knowledge of our assigned country and issues (luckily I went to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and am also an Energy, Resources, and Environment concentrator at SAIS). All participants had access to a shared gmail account as well as blog access to the Crisis Sim Wordpress blog (check it out here http://simcrisis2014.wordpress.com/). Team China also had a reporter from China Daily who would write breaking news updates with some, ahem, “guidance” from the leadership. Lastly, students in the Seminar in Crisis Simulation course at SAIS were responsible for designing, leading, and ultimately carrying out the simulation. During the simulation, they were the “Control” group and also played the role of the United States. They had access to all groups’ gmail accounts and would occasionally stop by our individual situation rooms (classrooms in the Rome Building at SAIS) to see what we were up to. We often had to adapt our strategy to the curveballs thrown our way from Control as well as google (or baidu) estimates of our petroleum reserves or military presence in the East and South China Seas. Overall, the simulation was a mix of real-life potential scenarios and lighthearted fun.
The Chinese Energy Minister Margaux Fimbres visited Pakistan’s port of Gwadar (aka the SAIS Rome Building in DC) to assess pipeline damage, following the official invitation from the Pakistani Prime Minister Elizabeth McGovney.
Here are some highlights from the simulation:
1) Terrorist attacks cut gas pipelines in eastern Europe and a massive explosion destroyed Pakistan’s major energy hub
2) China increases People’s Armed Police presence in Xinjiang as protests mount
3) France and Iran deepen economic and diplomatic ties
4) China dips into its strategic petroleum reserves, signs energy deals with Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and increases oil production in Angola and Sudan amid the oil crisis
5) China builds military bases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain
6) Iran goes nuclear!
7) India declares a “New World Order”
8) China plants false intelligence which implicates India in supporting Iranian terrorist groups
9) Russian spies bug the Chinese Situation Room and broadcast a live video stream to other countries
10) The Bahrain team deciphers gmail password codes and hack into other countries’ email accounts; sends misinformation to other countries
11) Iran has a nuclear fallout with “Chernobyl-like” levels of nuclear radiation
12) China employs its soft power through “panda diplomacy”